For ThoughtWorks, talent is the source of the enterprise’s growth and competitive advantage. ThoughtWorks’ AURORA-Leader Development Program used Action Learning as a core method to build a talented team with excellent capabilities, broader vision and connection with the culture and mission.
During the 6 month program, trainees follow a cycle around real scenarios, learning, practice and retrospect. Each of them receives the support from a mentor, an external WIAL Action Learning coach, and the BU head.
Action learning allows trainees to think about and explore the macro issues facing senior leaders at the company’s strategic and organizational level, and at the same time work on their individual leadership development. Action learning helps us to solve real organizational problems and evaluate the corresponding results. After 2 successful years, the third AURORA starts this year !
“The more complex the problems are, the more significant improvement in trainee’s leadership capability can be observed.”
Song Zhang // Managing Director ThoughtWorks China
Lyreco is one of the world’s leading B2B distributors of Office and Workplace products with a strong and growing ecommerce presence complementing its traditional channels. Operating in Europe for over ninety years, Asia has been one of the growth markets for the past two decades. Due to rapid growth over in Thailand, the local leadership team were searching for a way to confront many of the internal challenges resulting from rapid expansion.
Action Learning was identified as a key tool and over a six-month period, two groups of directors and managers attended foundation courses in Action Learning in either Thai or English. Seven potential coaches were selected from the earlier cohorts who were trained to become Certified Action Learning Coaches (CALC). Within the first year, the CALC at Lyreco were holding regular cross-functional Action Learning sessions with a wide selection of attendees from Lyreco in Thailand.
There have been many benefits, even in the first year; Action Learning has clearly promoted work related interaction between the departments at the different geographical locations in Thailand and all the participants are learning from each other about what is happening and planned for the future in their departments and Lyreco as whole.
The Action Learning group members are learning to ask powerful questions and it has created a format where people “have’ to ask work related questions, where previously it may have been seen as culturally inappropriate or insensitive to ask questions.
The company has clearly begun to develop a learning culture and whilst the Action Learning is helping to solve problems, we see this as a by-product, as the improved inter-departmental cooperation and openness to ask questions amongst our employees producing learning and better understanding is already a real benefit.
“Whilst there is still work to change the perception of some employees of Action Learning from a short-term program to becoming being part of our DNA, I am confident that the benefits of Action Learning will continue to impact everyone who has been exposed to it whether they remain at Lyreco or continue their career elsewhere.”
David RECORD // Managing Director
Lyreco (Thailand) Co., Limited
The Thermo Fisher Scientific team brought together 130 team members from various functions in two locations- Taiwan and Singapore to discover the power of Action Learning. Participants experienced the importance and benefits of Psychological Safety when working together. It was a rare occasion where our participants could share freely about their challenges at work. With the guidance of the Action Learning coaches, participants started learning the skills of active listening and understanding the power of questioning.
“The Action Learning coaches created a safe environment for us to share about challenges and to learn. That leads to open and courageous communication among team members, and to both challenge and help others think through the issues they are facing.”
David Loke // Regional Sales Training & Development Manager
Thermo Fisher Scientific
China Foreign Economy and Trade Trust Co., Ltd. built its second youth-talent development program around Action Learning with a hybrid training model to improve abilities in problem-solving, innovation and leadership. In the intensive learning, participants integrate their learning results with actual work through deliberate practices and tools of “leadership in action”.
Their projects help solve important issues supporting the company’s strategy while strengthening participants’ leadership and teamwork.The program has become a benchmark of talent development in the company and the WIAL Action Learning skills are deployed to the talent development at all levels of the company.
“Action learning develops a systematic and deductive way of thinking and supplements participants’ intrinsic mindset and subjective experience. The program has helped the company build up young people who identify with the company culture, dare to innovate and who bring an enterprising spirit, efficient working ability and professional accomplishment.”
Mr. Teng Li // Training Manager
China Foreign Economy and Trade Trust Co., Ltd.
The Healthcare Leadership College under MOH Holdings Pte Ltd used Action Learning as a foundation for the Activist for Change Programme, one of the key leadership development initiatives. The WIAL Action Learning coaches lead by Mr. Choon Seng Ng participated in the curriculum design, supported the various teams to work on their projects and coached the competency development of individuals and teams.
“Mr Ng and the team of WIAL Action Learning Coaches were definitely a valuable resource in the development and running of the Activist for Change Programme.”
Trevor Chua // Assistant Director MOH Holdings Pte Ltd (MOHH) Singapore
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) created a 9 month customized leadership development program to prepare its top managers to recreate the organization for greater effectiveness over the coming decades in a complex multiple-stakeholder environment. Action Learning was the key part of the program, and the part that participants appreciated the most !
“The Action learning group segment was vital as it created accountability and heightened the importance of active listening, working collectively and giving and receiving feedback.”
Danny Caine // Chief of Security
Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) Caribbean
Auchan Retail in Ukraine is undergoing important changes and management transformations. Looking for a methodology to support the change at the different levels of the organization, Action Learning was confirmed as an excellent integral method and the first feedback is very positive. We have certified 12 Action Learning ambassadors who have in turn trained over 350 collaborators to implement Action Learning-based change initiatives in their different work areas.
“The WIAL action learning methodology is 100% in line with our goal which is to move to collaborative behaviors and helps people to be more open minded, creative and innovative.”
Frédéric Henin // Talent Development Director, Auchan Retail Ukraine
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) used Action Learning in 2016 to support six major projects, leading to breakthrough improvement in the procurement processes and uniformity at the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS). WIAL trained LEAP alumni to become coaches for the following cohorts and this approach brought the program to the next level. Since 2017, an Action Learning Community of Practice (ALCOP) brings together 50 members from over two dozen federal agencies to share best practices and share approaches to action learning sets.
“Action Learning has become a key leadership development component of the Department of Justice’s “Leadership Excellence and Achievement Program” (LEAP) for high potentials.”
Bill Thimmesh // Program Manager, Leadership and Executive Development, Department of Justice
RLC’s Malls business unit embarked on a large scale leadership development program based on Action Learning. 17 Action Learning groups of 6-7 members from different divisions worked on some of the most complex business challenges. During 3 months, they identified root causes, developed action steps and implemented their projects while at the same time practicing their leadership values and personal improvement actions.
“The General Manager was happily surprised at the outcome of the projects and in particular the really bright ideas she didn’t expect. RLC has come to realize that instead of ad hocs or task forces for special projects, an Action Learning project to solve, plan, or work on specific organizational concerns or scenarios may be the best approach and structure in the future. Yay!”
Fatima Olaguer // Associate HR Director – HR Operations/Learning and Development, Robinsons Land Corporation
For us in AirAsia, Action Learning has helped introduce the concept of learning and leadership competencies in a manner that is practical and real, with teams working together to solve urgent, complex problems. For the past two years Action Learning has been positioned at the grassroots level, with priority focus on problem-solving and team-building skills.
“Our internal Certified Action Learning coaches are excited to continue and expand Action Learning as the cornerstone of the top leadership development programs for Air Asia, from Kuala Lumpur to Manila to Bangkok and more.”
Faz Kamaruddin // Group Head, Talent, Air Asia
Helmgras used Action Learning to create unity and connection between the teams of two recently merged schools. Nine team members were trained as Action Learning coaches to build and reshape the direction of the merged school from within. The coaches work on different priority areas and asking questions has become second nature within the school.
“Developing quality requires finding the correct solution for the real problem. For the management team at Helmgras elementary school, this is the foundation for education focused on talent growth.”
Hans Ploeg // Director, Helmgras Primary School
In 2015, our CEO led our executive team to discover the WIAL Action Learning methodology. Later, it was applied to our management team. Now, it is widely used in the whole organization.
Whenever we encounter a complex and important problem, we use Action Learning to find solutions. As a project manager of a new program, I need to explore different possibilities and alternatives with my team members. Sometimes we are confident to move further, but then a powerful question hits us and makes us reconsider our situation. We often realize our idea is not yet clear enough and then find together a clearer and better path.
“Action Learning has become part of our culture and helped us avoid many wrong decisions and actions.”
Howard He // Assistant Vice President, Aviva-Cofco Life Insurance
After I discovered the Action Learning process in a Foundations class, I immediately applied it with my MBA students. Each year, students are struggling to finalize the topic of their thesis and it is always a stressful situation for everyone. We applied Action Learning to get students to think in a more focused way about what research they want.
“The result is that for two years in a row, students finalize their thesis topic in 2 months instead of 6 months.”
Thitiwan Sinthunok, PhD // Lecturer, Panyaphiwat Institute of Management
The top team of the recently merged company used Action Learning to deal with 5 company challenges, with the company President Qiao Hai, as sponsor. After 6 months, the projects resulted in increased revenue and improved customer satisfaction. At the end of the program, President Qiao Hai said:
“I hated training in my whole career life, but this project is the ever best project I have been through.”
Qiao Hai // President, Tempus Group Co., Ltd
“The series of Action Learning sessions has helped me achieve the challenging business goals I had set in half the time I planned. Through better leadership I have developed a strong management team and reduced my work load. Unexpected benefits were getting a far better work life balance and confidential networking with other senior business leaders.”
Sunil K. // Chief Executive, India Asia Region, ACS Group